Sensory processing/integration is the way a person’s nervous system interprets information from the senses and translates them into motor and behavioral responses. Typically, sensory processing occurs automatically, beginning at birth and continuing through teenage years. However, some may have difficulty organizing sensory information taken from one’s environment. This is called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
SPD affects 5-16% of school-aged children making it more common than autism and just as common as ADHD. It can impact any of the 5 main senses like touch, hearing, sight, taste, and smell or the 2 lesser-known proprioceptive and vestibular senses (the proprioceptive system is the sensation between muscles and joints, and the vestibular system is the sensation of movement) and can be a mixture of over-sensitive to under-sensitive.
Once a child with SPD is diagnosed, a multisensory treatment program of occupational therapy (OT) can be very beneficial. The goal is to build neural pathways in a fun and active way so that they will lead to appropriate responses to sensory information.